An interesting and important lesson was learned in May 2014 when LCS Auctions published their “Metrodome Memories” auction on K-BID.com. There were 6 lots in this auction, the description for all 6 lots read:
It's probably fair to assume most people would assess the value of these troughs at whatever the scrap value was in May 2014. Who in their right mind would have any interest in an auction with used urinal troughs -- especially when you consider they were used for decades by hundreds of thousands of frustrated Viking's fans?
The answer - this auction had 20,000 unique hits from all over the country. The average winning bid price per trough exceeded $300!
“Metrodome Memories” was K-BID's first encounter with viral insanity. Immediately upon the auction going live on K-BID.com, the urinal auction story was picked up by several news outlets. Some of the online news outlets that carried the story were Reddit.com, Deadspin.com, Bleacherreport.com and Startribune.com; it was covered by local radio and TV stations. The radio personalities from KFAN, WCCO and MPR requested interviews with K-BID staff to get the scoop on the infamous Metrodome urinals. It didn't take long for social media platforms to light up about the weird little auction on K-BID.com.
It would be impossible for us to duplicate the visibility and web traffic this little auction generated for the K-BID.com website --- no matter how much was spent in advertising. This little $1,800 auction was responsible for 17% of the unique traffic to the website for the month of May 2014; our daily web traffic doubled while this auction was online.
There isn't a formula that guarantees this kind of exposure -- while luck obviously plays a role, LCS Auctions deserves accolades for creative thinking...they recognized and played up the nostalgia angle and sold it by introducing practical uses for troughs:“Works great for livestock feeders or a beverage cooler.”
So whats the take away from this? I think there are two important lessons that could apply to your business:
Don’t underestimate the power of social media - This encounter allowed us to see the power that social media websites have on how people interact online. Although social media is very fluid and likely to change year over year, it is something that is not going away. If you haven’t already, seriously consider getting involved on social media in some aspect to promote your business. Start small with creating a Facebook business page to engage fans and local businesses. Get in a habit of giving your seller(s) a link to the auction to share on Facebook or LinkedIn (if it could help their auction why wouldn't they want to share it?). Make it part of your auction process to involve social media to collect reviews and share when you have posted a new auction or are promoting a consignment auction. With some initial effort and maintenance, a social media presence could connect you with your current customers and help you find new ones.
Simple PR can create huge results - Public relations does not have to be left a professional and can create great awareness for an auction. Do you have an interesting auction that is relative to your community? Has a popular business in the community contacted you to conduct an auction? Do you have a fundraising auction for a good cause? Local media outlets are always looking for content that is relative to the community that they serve. Reach out to these outlets via email or social media about a possible story that people would care about. These outlets are looking for stories so don't worry about formatting a perfect press release or hiring someone to do it for you, just keep your communications professional, courteous and to the point. I believe that this viral phenomenon can work on a micro-level within a community and can be just as effective in bringing awareness to an auction.
This made for a couple of fun and interesting days at K-BID and we enjoyed the experience. Great job to LCS Auctions for seeing a diamond in the rough and pulling these items off the scrap pile.